James P Snell.

History of Sussex and Warren counties, New Jersey : online

. (page 62 of 190)
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PHYSICAL FEATURES OF SUSSEX COUNTY.



245



afforded a valuable water-power, the right to which
was vested in Gabriel X. Phillips. Several mills :in<]
factories had been called into existence near New
Hampton bj the water-power which had been utilized
liv tin construction of a dam at the above place. This
Jam was a great obstruction tn the drainage by ditches
in 1807. The farmers agreed with Phillips to pay
him a certain sum if he would lower the dam. He
towered it as desired. The farmers failed to fulfill
their part of the contract. Phillips raised his dam to
its original height. This was one of the main cau ■ -
cif the failure of the plan of river-bed ditc

"The canal project of 1826 alarmed Phillips. He
qlaimcd that a canal would necessarily divert the
water from its natural channel, and greatly injure
iter-power, if not destroy it. T\\" hostile par-
ties therefore anise. Those interested injlie factories
fought the canal scheme, and the Drowned J. amis
proprietors were determined that it should succeed.

" Vccording to the act of l.Si'C, a board of live
drowned-land commissioners was to be elected every

year at the i rt-house in Goshen. The ownership

of ten acres of drowned land entitled the owner to one
vote, i in every twenty acres, up to four hundred, a
proprietor could deposit one vote, and one vote for
even tiit\ acres above four hundred. At the election
of 1829 the issue was ' canal or no canal.' Two tickets
in the field. Gen. George I>. Wiekham was a
prominent candidate on the canal ticket; John I.
McGregor led the forces of the anti-canallers. On
the loth of June, 1829, the election was held. A
beaver hat was used for a ballot-box. John I.
McGregor claimed the right to cost twenty-sis votes
on proxies be held from other proprietors. He also
demanded that the inspector receive from him eighty-
two votes on a tract of three thousand live hundred
acres, which belonged to an uncle of his in England

wdio had just died, lie- claimed, besides, the right to

vote on tw i thousand acres of this tract, under an
alleged agreement with the dead uncle to work the
two thousand acre- for twenty years. These votes
lyerc all challenged by the supporters of the canal
ticket. The inspectors of election refused to n
them. A storm} scene followed. John I. McGregor
seizi 'l the hat containing thi votes that bad been cast,
and de tared that no vote 9hould be counted unless
those he offered were counted too. Everyone enti-
tled to vote bad voted, with the exception of two pi r-
son-. They demanded their right to n voice in the
m. The assi — re announced that they would
hold a new election. Met iregor's adherents attempted
to prevent this, but failed. Another bat was bor-
rowed, and the voting was commenced over again
among the voters who remained in the room. When
the polls closed McGregor returned the hat he had
captured, and demanded that ii be accepted as the
legal ballot-box. The assessors refused to accept it.
[The tickets in the stolen hal were counted unofficially.

The canal men had a majority. The new election



also gave them tin- victory, but the anti-canal men
claimed it. The certificate of election was given to
the commissioners. They at once gave out a portion
of the canal work on contract. They assessed the
Drowned Land- owners to the amount of twenty-six
thousand dollars to meet expenses. Some of the
proprietors who were opposed to the canal refused to

pay. Suits were about to be begun, but John I.
for, G. X. Phillip-, and others filed a bill to

restrain the commissioners from proceeding with the

work. The complainants alleged that the commis-
sion! rs had not been legally elected, and were wrong-
fully attempting to drain the ]>rowned Land- by a
canal, when the work could be best done in the bed
of the Wallkill. The matter came before Chancellor
Walworth. He decided in favor of the commis-
sioners. The canal wa- commenced, Gen. Wiekham
owned all the land through which it was to pass. He
was also a large owner of drowned lands. The canal
was dug under his superintendence; it was compli b 1
in 1885. Gen. Wiekham asked no pay for the land
taken by the canal ; he relied on it- BUCC1 - 90 to in-
crease the value of his drowned lands that he would
be more than repaid for the damage done to his
meadows by its construction.

"To protect the water-power at New Hampton, the
act of 1826 provided for the construction of a flood-
gate-dam in the canal, which was to be (dosed when-
ever it was necessary to flood Phillips' Pond, at New
Hampton. The canal gradually undenuin.il it-
banks and washed them away until from a ditch
twelve '1 A '.VI. !:■ and Eight deep it became a ir. r in

places seven hundred feet wide. Hundred-"
of the best land in Orange County were thus carried
away by succeeding freshets. The canal, increased in
size, depth, and fall, took all the water from the river
between the inlet and outlet of the ditch. More than

ten thousand acre- of swamp were converted into the
most productive land in the county. As the canal
deepened and widened the drainage of the swamp
enlarged in extent. Where, a few years before, the
fanners could get about only in boats, BOlid road- were

made i ible. Fragrant meadows took the place of

almost unfathomable mire. The increase in the value

of the property thus drained is to-day put down at
over two millions of dollars. The draining cost the
landowners sixty thousand dollars.

" What brought wealth to the Drowned Land- far-
mers, however, sent disease and ruin to the mill-
To turn back the water to its original
channel. lb-urge Phillips, who succeeded his father,

G. N. Phillips, a- owner of the water-right, con-
structed a dam across the canal. Thi- had the de-
sired effect, but it soon began to flood the reclaimed
lands. Then the tanner- mil-tend in force and de-
stroyed the dam. It was rebuilt, and again destroyed.
The dam-buibbrs were called the ' beavi r- ; the dam-

destroyers were known a- ' muskrate. 1 The muskrat

and beaver war was carried on I'm- years. Finally,



246



SUSSEX COUNTY, NEW JERSEY.






Squire J. M. Talmage and Amos M. Ryerson pur-
chased the Phillips property. In 1857 the drowned-
land commissioners paid them five thousand dollars
for the water-right. The canal thus became master
of the situation. The Wallkill, from the head of the
canal to New Hampton, was changed from a rapid
stretch of stream, three miles in length, to a series of
stagnant pools and beds of decaying vegetable matter.
Denton and New Hampton, situated in the very midst
of Orange County's fragrant meadows and mountain-
air, became seats of malaria. The mills and factories
were closed.

"In 1869, G. D. Wiekham, George C. Wheeler, and
O. D. Wiekham purchased the Phillips property of
Ryerson and Talmage. They then purchased a strip
of land on both sides of the canal, a short distance
above its entrance into the Wallkill. There they
constructed a high and substantial dam across the
canal for the purpose of throwing the water back into
the old channel of the river. Then the muskrat and
beaver war was renewed. A hundred farmers, on the
20th of August, 1869, marched upon the dam to de-
stroy it. A large force of armed men guarded the
dam. The farmers routed them and began the work
of destruction. The ' beavers' then had recourse to
the law; warrants were issued for the arrest of the
farmers. A number of their leaders were arrested,
but not before the offending dam had been demol-
ished. The owner of the dam began to rebuild it ;
the farmers applied for an injunction. Judge Bar-
nard granted it, and cited the owner of the dam to
appear and show cause why the injunction should not
be made perpetual. Pending a final hearing, high
water came and carried away all vestige of the dam.
In February, 1871, Judge Barnard decided that the
dam could not be legally constructed. Since then no
water has flowed in the Wallkill between Denton and
New Hampton, and the canal has greatly increased in
size. A prominent resident of Denton assures the
writer that there have been at one time as high as one
hundred cases of malarial fever in Denton and New
Hampton and along the old bed of the Wallkill this
season. Three cases in one house, he says, is a com-
mon occurrence, and he pointed out one house in
Hampton where there had been seven persons pros-
trated with fever at the same time. 'This festering
bed of the Wallkill causes it all,' our informant de-
clares, ' and property hereabout can hardly be sold at
any price.'

" The continued increase in malarious diseases and
the depreciation of property along the Wallkill's old
channel have alarmed those directly affected. Last
year they had a survey made of the former bed of the
stream. The engineer assured them that the obstruc-



tions could be so removed from the channel that the
drainage of the Drowned Lands would be perfect, as
it is by the canal. The cost of the work was esti-
mated at twenty-five thousand dollars ; this was more
money than the people could raise. They applied for
an appropriation of fifteen thousand dollars from the
State. A legislative committee was appointed to look
into the matter. Nothing was done beyond recom-
mending that State Engineer Seymour be authorized
to make a survey of the Wallkill to ascertain if the
proposed improvement was practical. Engineer Sey-
mour was authorized to make the survey ; he began
the work two weeks ago. The matter of an appro-
priation will be pressed again the coming winter, and
the question will be a leading one in the politics of
this Assembly district this fall. The drowned-land
farmers will, oppose the work until they are assured
beyond all question that it will be fully as valuable
to them as the canal. Even then they are not ex-
pected to give the measure any tangible support, as
they have the canal, and the new work will confer no
increased benefit upon them.

" The Drowned Lands of the Wallkill abound in
curious things. Rising from the morass are numer-
ous elevations of land resting on the limestone that
underlies this whole marsh; they have been given the
name of islands. Before any draining was done these
islands were accessible only in boats during freshets.
Pine Island, near the site of a flourishing village, and
the terminus of the Pine Island branch of the Erie
Railway, Big Island, Merritt's Island, and Walnut
Island are the principal ones. These elevated tracts
contain from forty to two hundred acres. Some of
them are fertile and in a high state of cultivation ;
others are covered with forests of cedar and other
evergreen trees. On the southwestern border of the
swamp, in the town of Warwick, two lofty and iso-
lated mountains rear their summits. They are called
Adam and Eve. Formerly they swarmed with rattle-
snakes, but these the inhabitants have exterminated.
Mount Eve abounds in caverns of great extent, one
having been explored for nearly a mile. High up
the side of this mountain there are bowlders weighing
hundreds of tons apparently so lightly lodged that a
push might send them thundering down into the
swamp beneath. A singular characteristic of the
marsh is the existence in it of large and remarkably
cold springs. One of these, in the vicinity of the early
home of the late Secretary Seward, near Florida, is
seventy-five feet in diameter. The water is ice-cold
and unfathomable. The muck in the swamp is very
deep in places. Cedar logs of immense size, and as
sound as if fallen but yesterday, have been found near
Warwick, thirty feet below the surface."



TOWNSHIPS AND VILLAGES OF SUSSEX CODNTY.



N E W T O N.



I.-SITTATIOX, AREA, Err.
WHEN "Newtown" was first formed, in 1 "■">■"., u-one
of the fcur precincts of Sussex Ccunt* il embraced
an immense territory, covering nearly all of what is
the present county east of the Blue Mountains, that
iresl being the Walpack precinct or township, Be-
tween that date and 1844 it yielded up portions of its
territory to form several townships (the details of
which are given hereafter, under the head of "Civil
Organization"), bo that at the latter date it had In-
come reduced to a length of 13 miles and a breadth
of about 9. Its boundaries at that time were: north,
Frankfort ; east, Hardyston; southeast, By ram ; south-
west, linen and Stillwater; and west, Sandyston.f
From 18511 down to lsiil the township embraced
only what is now the town of Newton and the town-
ships of Hampton and Andover, and was bounded
the same as before, except on the northeast and east,
where lay respectively the townships of Lafayette
and Sparta, which had been formed during that

period. The township of Newton has had no civil

existence 9inec 1804, when the town of Newton was

formed.
The town of Newton is situated a little south of
rap I liea I centre of the. count v. It is an irreg-
ular pentagon in form, the north side of which is a
line running east and west. It lies between the town-
ships of Hampton and Andover, which completely
BUrround it, the former bounding it upon the north-
east, north, northwest, and west, and the latter upon

the south and southwest.

1 1: Sussex I -nlmad tra-. : rses its territory i r about
a mile, making a circuit and crossing it- easternmost

point.

The population of Newton, according to the late
census (1SSD), is l'olV,.

II.— PHYSICAL PEAT1 RES,
The surface of the town of Newton is undulating
and hilly, although it lies in the depression or valley
between the Wallkill Mountains on the east and the

Kitlatinny or Blue Mountain- on the west. The east



• !'•> .Ii

t It U thill



a.- Hi. i an i bonndod In
Bdltlon 1803, rol I p, 171,



dm " II M irtcal Collections of



branch of the Paulinskill is the principal stream in
the town. It rises in its eastern part, and after leav-
ing its borders takes a northeast course to Lafayette,
thence flows northwesterly to near Augusta, in Frank-
fort, where it joins the west branch, whose waters
unite to form the Paulinskill River.J Newton is
almost encircled by a chain of ponds of various sizes,

of which the " Big Muckshaw," on the south, ami

"Drake's," on the east, lie close to its borders. None
of them, however, are within its bounds.

Bunker Hill, College Hill, and the ridge running

southwest from the latter and lying to the northwest
of " Love Lane," are the highest elevations in the
town.

The " Devil's Hole." on the Babbitt farm, near the
.south line of the town, at the point where it join- the
line which Beparates Hampton from Andover. i< a
place of some local note. The opening, which in
former years wa- of considerable size, is now <.<> tilled
up that it WOUld he difficult lor a person to crawl
through tin' aperture which lead- to the subterranean
cavern. Some portions of the underground p
are narrow, and where roof and floor almost meet re-
quire the explorer to -toop. and Sometimes crawl, hut

beyond opening up into quite large chambers. A

stream of water runs through tin- cave, keeping the

'continually wet. We have conversed with sev-
eral parties who have penetrated with torches lor a

considerable distance into its hidden mj Bterii -. That.

as well 08 the Muckshaw Swamp, near by. may have

been a hiding-place for Tories in the Revolution, —
particularly of Lieut. James M Ij and his band.

The elevation of Newton is 645 fectj above tide-
water; the vicinity, embracing a circuit of two miles
from the court-house, includes the highest ground tor
many miles arotiml. In fact, this vicinage 18 water-
shed, the water- of the Pequest and I'auliuskill Rivers

(which head near the town ' flowing in oppo-ite direc-
tions, to the northward and southward respectively.
It- high elevation, salubrious atmosphere, and beauti-
ful BCCnery render Newton in the summer season a
place of attraction a- a resort, many coming hither at

; Til - lit.ll.in Him f PniiliiKMII is Niiil to hs.ro been T.« k-luvk-ca-

iiilHinik. tbo nnul -illnt.t. i amy.

| At vrMer tabic "f Hie conrt-lioo.se.

247



248



SUSSEX COUNTY, NEW JERSEY.



that time from New York, Newark, and neighboring
cities. It has become so popular of late years as a
place of summer residence that its accommodations
for entertainment are taxed to their utmost, and then
found inadequate.

III.— EARLY SETTLEMENT, Etc.

Who was the first settler is not now known, al-
though it is traditional that a log hut, which formerly
stood opposite to the site of the present dwelling of
John Gray, on High Street, was the first habitation
of a white man in this town. Who was its builder
or occupant is conjectural. This avant-courier of
Anglo-Saxon emigration to and occupation of the
wilderness of old " Newtown" will probably never be
embalmed in the historic page. It is claimed by
some, however, that a German — father of the vener-
able "Uncle George" Onsted — very early lived within
the walls of this pioneer log cabin, but of this there
is no corroborative proof.

The " Historical Collections of New Jersey" says
that in 1761 the house of Henry Hairlocker was the
only dwelling within the limits of what is now New-
ton, and adds, "The village of Newton might have
been better located a quarter of a mile southwest of
its present site but for a mistake on the part of the
Legislature.* The act authorizing the building of
the court-house of Sussex County, passed in 1761, re-
quired it to be erected within half a mile of Henry
Hairlocker's house. By that proviso it became neces-
sary to build the court-house where it now is." Half
a mile in any other direction would have been still
worse, owing to the unfavorable form of the ground ;
as it was, the 40 chains did not quite reach the pres-
ent site. But, rather than locate the seat of justice at
the foot of a hill or over a stream of water, a few ad-
ditional chains were thrown in for "good measure,"
thereby locating it partly up the hillside, where in
1765 it was completed. At that time the space in
front of the court-house, since known as "the green,"
was covered with woods.

Henry Hairlocker, who (so far as records or recol-
lections go) may be considered the pioneer settler of
Newton, was a native of Holland. He located here
about the year 1750. He lived in the house late the
residence of Maj. John B. Pettit, who sold to John
A. Horton, whose descendants now occupy it. The
land upon which the cabin stood was originally
owned by Jonathan Hampton, of Essex County. It
is said that Hairlocker was buried on. his place, near
the gate-house of the Horton mansion.

Jonathan Hampton was a heavy landowner in this
section. He not only made a donation of land in

* " Whenever tho disadvantageous location of our court-house is com-
mented upon, the fault is invariably attributed to a blunder of tho Leg-
lslature. This is not true. The Legislature tiki not require tho board
and tho "owner of the land" to take any particular course in running
out the half-mile from Ilnirlocker's dwelling, and consequently if our
local authorities mo managed the matter as to land in a ditch, they alone
arc to blame."— B. U. EiUaJFe Centennial Address.



1764, upon which the court-house was erected,! but
he also conveyed land to the village for an academy,
and a tract to the Episcopal Church, which now
forms part of the old cemetery. He was a commis-
sioner of supplies for the troops in 1755, during the
Indian troubles. In 1757 he was appointed paymas-
ter and victualler for the company raised for service
on the frontier. Mr. Hampton was a non-resident,
but his own personal interests as a " proprietor"
prompted him to these donations, also to the efforts
he is said to have made to secure the location of the
seat of justice at this instead of some other point in
the vast territory of Sussex. It is hardly to be ques-
tioned but that he was a public-spirited man ; yet his
gifts, no doubt, directly resulted in the material en-
hancement of the value of his remaining acres, and
yielded a handsome dividend upon his gifts when
sold.J

Very soon after the county-seat was located several
buildings were put up in the Hairlocker neighbor-
hood.

/ It is said that this settlement was called by the
Indians Chinkchcwunska, or "side-hill town." But
among their white neighbors it was called, from the
first, " Newtown," so appearing in all the early rec-
ords. It bore this appellation for a considerable
time, but when and why changed to its present name
is not satisfactorily explained.

Henry Hairlocker (sometimes spelled Harelocker)
received license to keep a " public-house" from the
first court held in Sussex County, and was the first
tavernkeeper in the village of Newton.

Another innkeeper in what was then Newton town-
ship was Thomas Woolverton, a contemporary of
Hairlocker. He was licensed in 1758, along with his
neighbor " Henry." His location, however, is now
without the bounds of Newton, in Andover township,

Jacob McCollum, who was in the early day a
prominent man in this township, lived on the farm
now occupied by John W. Smith, in what has since
been set off as Hampton. He was one of the County
Committee of Safety in 1775, and a member of the
Legislature in 1778, "serving in that body with great
acceptance. He was a man of primitive habits, and
is still remembered as one of the most characteristic
representatives of the frontier population of old Sus-
sex." He went on foot, staff in hand, to " Trent's
Town," the capital, with a knapsack on his back, his
wardrobe in a bundle, and carrying provisions to sus-
tain him on his journey. When the session was over
he returned in like fashion to his home and farm.
He was also judge of the courts in 1777. A great-
grandson, Charles McCollum, is now living and en-
gaged as a night-watchman in the village of Newton.



f Seo copy of deed In general chapter on " Civil Organization," pre-
ceding.

X In his honor one of tho nioro recently formed townships of this
county has hcon named. This will perpetuate tho memory of ono of
Sussex's early benefactors.



N HWTOX.



249



Tin homestead farm baa passed out of the family,
ainl is now owned by strangers.

Thomas Anderson, the elder, was another pioneer of
Newton. He came from Hunterdon County and lo-
cated here some time prior to the Revolution. lie
lived in a building on the upper side of the park,
now the residence of Capt. Thomas Anderson, his
grandson. What are now the two wings of the mod-
ern mansion were erected by the senior Anderson,
ami occupied by him as dwelling and office. In the
upper part of one, it is said, he stored commissary
lor the ii-.- of tin- A iiii-riran army durin i In
war lor independence. A more detailed and very in-
teresting account of his patriotic deeds will be found
in the chapter devoted to the Revolutionary period,
elsewhere given. He was noticeably prominent in
the civil affairs of the township and county, as was

also hi- son, Maj. William T. Anderson. * The widow
of Thomas Anderson became the third wife of Judge
John Johnson, i The reader is referred to the chapter

neral history portion of this work, under the

lead of " The Bench and Bar of Sussex < lounty," lor
a particular mention of this prominent family.)
Joseph and Hezekiah Phillips came to Newton

before the year 1 sou, with their tools on their backs,
both being carpenters. They brought their trade
into requisition in building a hotel. They were the
sons of Joseph Phillips. Joseph, Jr., married a
Srhooley, of Newton township, and Hezekiab, his
brother, died a bachelor.

Jonathan Willis was .me of the early settlers. lie
was also one of the pioneer tavernkeepers,1 and as a

public official his nam.- is of frequent occurrei in

the records of Sussex County. He was appointed
indue in IT'.M.

Charles [icarilslec was a member of the State Leg-
islature from 17*1 until 1800, both in the Assembly
and in the Council, with the exception of one year,
— 1790, It is needless to say that he was a prominent
man in tin- settlement during his day. He was an
early member of the first Masonic lodge in Newton,

and served as an officer therein as earlj as 1793.

No' f the family now reside in the town.

George Rorhaeh was a native of Germany, and
came to this country when ab Hit twelve year- of age.



• Mrs. Margaret 0. An -i.-i-.ii, roll, i - i the lata MnJ. fl Ull im T. An-

-ilut hor li< .in., in Krwtun, April II, 1»70, In ilioi Ilotli your

She niu Hi- il.in Li ii ol Dr. Wnln m I.liiu, ol llm
' iwneblp, mi I was born i r Mom Jan. It), IT-.". Slid was n

-i-i.-i ..i Itoborl A. Linn, Mi-. David Rycraon, anil Ura. Richard K.



Online LibraryJames P SnellHistory of Sussex and Warren counties, New Jersey : → online text (page 62 of 190)